Mark A. Smith is professor of Political Science and an adjunct professor of Comparative Religion and Communication at the University of Washington. His research focuses on economic and religious groups, ideas, and influences in American politics. In his new book, Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics, Dr. Smith argues that religion is not nearly the unchanging conservative influence in American politics that we have come to think it is and is best understood as responding to changing political and cultural values rather than shaping them.
Welcome to the Morning Buzz, PRRI’s morning dose of religion-related news with a shot of data – because what doesn’t liven up a morning round-up like some public opinion numbers?
Yesterday, PRRI released one of the largest surveys ever conducted on LGBT issues. Check out some great coverage of the report at The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Religion News Service, Time Magazine and The Huffington Post, or head over to our blog for a more comprehensive round-up. Want to join the conversation about the findings? Catch us on Twitter @publicreligion, and be sure to use #LGBT10 in your comments!
Be sure also to take a look at our new Graphic of the Week, which draws on nearly 100 polls conducted during the last decade by PRRI and six other major polling organizations to depict a decade of change in attitudes about same-sex marriage in America.
A federal judge struck down Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional in a ruling yesterday, but will allow the ban to stand until an appeals court can rule on the case. Today, Texans are evenly divided on the issue of same-sex marriage: 48 percent of Texans strongly favor or favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, compared to 49 percent who oppose or strongly oppose. For a closer look on how Texans feel on these and other LGBT-related issues, check out our blog.
Businesses in Arizona are speaking out against a bill passed by the state legislature, which is currently awaiting Governor Jan Brewer’s signature, that would allow businesses to refuse service to any customer if doing so would violate the owners’ religious beliefs. Proponents of the bill say it allows citizens greater religious liberty, while opponents say the bill would encourage new forms of discrimination, particularly against the state’s LGBT population. Today, approximately 7-in-10 Americans say that transgender Americans (71 percent) and gay and lesbian people (68 percent) face a lot of discrimination in the United States.
Finally, The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch blog reports you no longer have to identify as either “male” or “female” on your Facebook bio, as the social networking site has added categories including “transgender,” “cisgender” and “intersex” among a series of new options. PRRI’s new poll finds 5.1 percent of the U.S. population self-identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.